Excerpt:‘A Synergetic Neighbourhood’ is an Urban Housing project by Aanchal Tejwani, a student from Faculty of Architecture at CEPT University, Ahmedabad. By carefully examining the many user groups and their current living conditions on multiple tiers, this project addresses the challenge of providing affordable housing with a variety of optimised housing typologies that will bring harmony within the community. The proposed living spaces are designed to be flexible, self-sufficient, and have a sense of community through shared spaces, much like the original neighbourhood.
Introduction: The project, ‘A Synergetic Neighbourhood,’ from the academic studio ‘Urban Housing as a Product of Types, Density, and Systems’ proposes a redevelopment of an existing slum-settlement called Ramdev Nagar in Ahmedabad. The core objective of the academic project was to propose new houses along with community spaces for more than 500 low to middle-income families that live in the existing slum, in a manner that it takes into consideration their existing lifestyle and livelihood patterns.
To accomplish this, the studio started by conducting a thorough survey of close to 200 families (one-third of the total number of families as a sample) in the neighbourhood to understand their lifestyle, existing patterns of house types and community spaces, opinions, fears, and aspirations regarding moving into new homes.
The plan tackles concerns like the need for an extensive network of open spaces, clearing the current settlement of clutter, increasing the alternatives available to extended families, and providing appropriate vehicular access to each home. The original settlement’s flexibility, self-sufficiency, and sense of communal life are intended to be replicated in the current living arrangements. The project is approached at three scales: unit, cluster, and site in order to meet the demands of the varied families and the community.
Ramdev Nagar Tekra is a neighbourhood (slum) in Ahmedabad, India, that is made up of low- and middle-income families who depend on daily wages to make ends meet. The neighbourhood is home to a variety of family structures, from nuclear to joint homes with multiple breadwinners in each. During the first two weeks of the workshop, a thorough site-mapping and survey were conducted, and students were part in site-mapping activities that involved both qualitative and quantitative mapping of the existing neighbourhood. The detailed information about the site mapping and the survey can be found on the academic studio page of Urban Housing as a Product of Types, Density & Systems – 2.
This large-scale urban housing project’s design technique was iterative, alternating between working at the individual unit, cluster, and site levels. Following a thorough site study and research of the Ramdev Nagar neighbourhood, the next phase involved visualising the housing concept via a series of sketches and mass models. These massing models provided insights into the required overall density along with the permissible Floor Space Index (FSI).
Following that, the student attempted to transform the massing models into architectural drawings in order to understand the collective organisation of clusters. Replicating these clusters over the site added to the impression of balance between built and unbuilt, as well as open and closed.
This strategy used a repeated cycle, with each iteration seeking to create a synergy between the three different scales, all while focusing on the concept of central courtyards. Individual units were designed to adapt in response to a single cluster, which had to correspond with the overall layout of the site.
The projected housing project will support Ahmedabad’s Ramdev Nagar settlement’s intricate urban framework. By carefully examining the many user groups and the current living conditions on several different levels, including the individual housing units, communal dynamics, and the overall site plan, this academic project addresses the problem of providing affordable housing. The project, omitting commercial spaces, workshops, and community areas, achieves a dwelling density for 518 families using a cohesive architectural programme and an iterative process. This accomplishment is made possible by a system that was carefully planned out and includes a variety of housing typologies.
In order to free up ground area and widen the existing streets, the dwelling units are layered on top of one another up to G+1 and G+2 stories. The various family kinds, including nuclear, joint, and extended families, as well as families with cattle, shops, and workshops, are catered for by the types and typologies. Every housing unit includes a semi-open verandah at the front that extends the living area and a semi-open utility room at the back that opens onto the communal courts, creating a much more personal environment and assisting with the need for proper ventilation.
The two clusters that are suggested for the location are adaptable in their spatial arrangement, allowing for flexible orientation on the site and the creation of such shared open courts. Due to its unique collection of unit types, private courtyard spaces, and shared common areas, this cluster (cluster 1) becomes diverse in and of itself. The cluster and courts can be oriented by following a language throughout the site thanks to the relocation of the existing road network from this area (shown on the panel) to the southern half of the site. 104 shops make up the commercial edge that runs beside the main vehicular road network and the site perimeter. Using the dwelling + shop typology, this cluster (cluster 2) includes a separate pedestrian promenade on both sides of the road network.
The project places a strong emphasis on how various dimensions are interconnected, which adds to the overall coherence of the housing initiative. It makes one wonder whether an extra square metre is really needed on an individual level or if a large vehicle and pedestrian road network is actually needed on the site level. The research also examines how to reconcile the need for open space with the capacity for adding more housing units. The emphasis changes from exploring these diverse urban-scale possibilities within the context of mass housing to developing self-sustaining housing solutions that meet the needs of everyone.
The new housing is designed to resemble the previous settlement in several ways, including its adaptability, self-reliance, and sense of communal life with shared areas. In this way, the project aims to improve the quality of life for community members and recognises the need for better housing units, better thermal comfort with breathable interiors, communal spaces that serve as a cultural and social deliverance, better income and employment opportunities for individuals, and a better lifestyle that is in harmony with their current way of life.
[This Academic Project has been published with text submitted by the student]
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